God's Politics

the latest reports on the presidential campaign, illegal drugs, the Iraq war and policy, Japan’s nuclear accident, Iran, Darfur, the Mideast, human rights, Pakistan, and a bit of satire

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Campaign. Poverty emerges as Democratic campaign issue “While John Edwards was winding up a tour of America’s most impoverished areas, another Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), came to Washington on Wednesday to stake his own claim as a poverty warrior – and present a vision for fixing struggling inner cities that directly challenges that of Edwards.” Edwards Ends Poverty Tour by Broadening His Theme “Former Senator John Edwards wrapped up his three-day poverty tour Wednesday in this village deep in Appalachia, and suggested that the “two Americas” theme of his Democratic presidential campaign was an appeal for help not just for the poor, but also for all working Americans bypassed by the nation’s prosperity.”

Iraq differences blur among Democratic candidates “What looked like unity on the Senate floor masked a scramble on the campaign trail, where the candidates are trying to harness anger among the party’s base over the war.”

Candidates Shift as G.O.P. Field Alters “The decline of John McCain’s presidential campaign, and the rising profile of Fred D. Thompson as a prospective contender, are forcing candidates to rewrite their strategies as they adjust to a playing field vastly different from just one month ago.”

Peacemaking. Mandela unveils ‘council of elders’ "The former South African president launched his fellow elder statesmen on a new venture to foster peace, reduce conflict and despair during a birthday celebration on Wednesday." Global ‘elders’ launch new alliance "Mr. Carter explained that the elders hope to articulate new approaches to global issues and share wisdom by ‘helping to connect voices all over the world.’ He was quick to add that they would work to complement, not duplicate or compete with, the efforts of other organizations and leaders."

Illegal drugs. A Colombian model for Afghanistan? “Sceptics argue that it is wrong to try to replicate in Afghanistan strategies that have not been conclusively proven to be effective in Colombia. In particular, they claim that after nearly $4.7bn and seven years of Washington’s assistance to Bogota, there is still no significant reduction in the availability of cocaine on the streets of the US.”

Iraq – policy. Democrats Won’t Budge On Troop Withdrawal “Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) startled colleagues by announcing that the Senate would not vote on several other proposals intended to force Bush to revisit his war plans. Although war critics in both parties had supported the measures, Reid and other Democratic leaders dismissed them as too weak. Instead, they are holding firm in their bid to persuade GOP critics of Bush’s Iraq policy to embrace more aggressive Democratic measures to begin withdrawing troops.” Stymied by G.O.P., Democrats Stop Debate on Iraq “The move appeared to postpone the next Senate showdown over the war until September, despite a White House report that claimed no more than mixed progress in Iraq. It also allowed Democratic leaders to avoid votes on alternative initiatives that Republicans had sought to portray as evidence that they were seeking a change in Iraq as well.”

Iraq – war. Gunmen kill 29 villagers in Iraq “A police spokesman said a large group of gunmen surrounded Duwailiya village and killed men, women and children.” 2 U.S. Soldiers Charged With Murder of an Iraqi “The charges were announced one day after a U.S. Marine was convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy to murder in connection with the death of an Iraq last year in Hamdania. Cpl. Trent Thomas was acquitted of the most serious charge of premeditated murder during a trial at Camp Pendleton, Calif.” Marine Found Guilty in Iraqi’s Death “A military jury found an American marine guilty on Wednesday of conspiring to kidnap and kill an Iraqi man seized from his home and shot dead last year.” US soldiers charged in Iraq murder “They have also been charged with wrongfully placing weapons next to the bodies of the dead Iraqis, revealed after complaints from fellow soldiers led to an investigation.”

Nuclear accident. Japan Nuclear-Site Damage Worse Than Reported “The Japanese operator of a nuclear power plant stricken by an earthquake earlier this week said Wednesday that damage was worse than previously reported and that a leak of water was 50 percent more radioactive than initially announced.” New leak identified at damaged Japanese nuclear plant “Japanese nuclear inspectors have identified a new radioactive leak at a power plant that was badly damaged in this week’s earthquake, compounding concerns about the safety of the country’s nuclear reactors.”

Iran. Detained US-Iranians interviewed “Iranian state TV has broadcast a programme based on interviews with two Iranian-American academics who have been detained in Tehran since May. Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh are being held on suspicion of spying and endangering Iranian national security. The academics could face the death penalty if charged and found guilty.”

Darfur. Opposition to Darfur resolution “Sudan’s UN ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad said the draft UN resolution should be more Sudan-friendly and drop “irrelevant and alien issues” like the threat of sanctions.” Water find ‘may end Darfur war’ “A huge underground lake has been found in Sudan’s Darfur region, scientists say, which they believe could help end the conflict in the arid region. Some 1,000 wells will be drilled in the region, with the agreement of Sudan’s government, the Boston University researchers say. Analysts say competition for resources between Darfur’s Arab nomads and black African farmers is behind the conflict.”

Mideast. Blair begins new job with Quartet “Tony Blair will today have his first meeting with the four major world powers that make up the Quartet, in his new role as special envoy to the Middle East.” Blair to debut as special envoy “The Quartet of Middle East peacemakers – the U.S., Russia, the European Union and United Nations – is expected to endorse the latest U.S. efforts to revive peacemaking between Israel and the Palestinians as well as to discuss Blair’s role.” Damascus interested in peace negotiations with Israel “Syria’s UN ambassador said his country was prepared to enter a peace process if Israel would acknowledge publicly its willingness to withdraw from all Syrian territory captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.”

Human rights. Detainee in Afghanistan wins ruling “A federal judge in Washington on Wednesday upheld the right of a Yemeni man held as an enemy combatant at a U.S. military prison in Afghanistan to seek his freedom. The ruling is the first issued in a case filed on behalf of a foreign detainee held by the U.S. outside the country or the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station. It comes less than a month after the Supreme Court said it would again consider the rights of detainees at Guantanamo in the fall.”

Pakistan. Dozens killed in Pakistan blasts “The attacks were the latest in a wave of violence across Pakistan in which almost 150 people have been killed, mostly soldiers and police, since the army stormed Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad last week.”

Satire. John Edwards Vows To End All Bad Things By 2011 “According to Edwards, his plan is composed of three steps. Everyday bad things, such as curse words and splinters, would be eradicated during his first six months in office. Next, very bad things, including child abduction, soil erosion, and resurgent diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, would be ended by the the end of 2009. Finally, extremely bad things – plights such as genocide, species extinction, and virtually every form of cancer – would take a full two years to wipe out.”

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